Ontario not offering off-peak hydro rates during stay-at-home order
Hydro One electricity transmission lines are seen south of Chesley, Ont., on Sunday, Sept. 29, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Colin Perkel
TORONTO -- Ontario residents may need to think twice before deciding to run their dishwasher or do a load of laundry as they wait out the COVID-19 pandemic at home.
CTV News Toronto has learned the provincial government will not be offering off-peak hydro rates during the province’s second, month-long stay-at-home order – as it did in January.
During the first stay-at-home order, Ontarians were free to use electricity without considering time-of-use or fixed tiered rates. The goal was to have people remaining indoors to stop the spread of COVID-19 during the provincewide lockdown and following stay-at-home order.
Minister of Energy Greg Rickford said at the time the off-peak rates were introduced to “provide households, small businesses and farms with stable and predictable electricity bills when they need it most.”
The province returned to the fixed tiered rates and regular, three time-of-use price periods of its winter schedule on February 23.
Off-peak rates only include weekends, statutory holidays and weekdays from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. at 8.5 cents per kilowatt-hour. Mid-peak rates are charged during weekdays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 11.9 cents per kilowatt-hour. On-peak rates are weekdays from 7 to 11 a.m. and 5 to 7 p.m. weekdays at 17.6 cents per kilowatt-hour.
The province is expected to switch over to its summer time-of-use schedule on May 1, which inverts mid-peak and on-peak rates, five days before the stay-at-home order is set to expire.
Asked why the government will not be offering off-peak hydro rates as it did during the last stay-at-home order, the Ministry of Energy told CTV News Toronto it was “focusing on electricity relief for those who need it most through the COVID-19 Energy Assistance Program (CEAP).”
“We have also recently expanded eligibility for CEAP and invested an additional $23 million in the program. Customers in need of financial assistance can apply for CEAP through their local utility,” a spokesperson said.
Customers who qualify for CEAP may be eligible for up to $750 towards their electricity and natural gas bills. Only customers who have overdue amounts owing on the day they apply from one or more electricity or gas bills since March 17, 2020 qualify, according to the government.